By Saúl Berríos-Thomas
Sometimes underestimation is impossible to avoid. For Victor Ortiz focus seemed to be hard for him to attain. He has had a nine month layoff in between his last fight, which by the way was stopped very early by a controversial knockout. He was preparing during much of that time for a different opponent, but the injury and suspension of Andre Berto changed all of that. The opponent who stepped in with little time to prepare was Josesito Lopez. He came up in weight class a lot sooner than expected and fought a few pounds lighter than Ortiz. Ortiz had already agreed to his next fight showing he was not focused on this fight.
The main event on Saturday night in the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Showtime’s “World Championship Boxing” was a culmination of events that made a great matchup between welterweights. The champion Victor Ortiz (29-3-2) was challenged by Josesito Lopez (29-4-0-1). Ortiz came out strong early, but he learned quickly that Lopez punches hard as well. Both men were throwing many hard shots. Lopez had success working the body. With a minute left in the fifth round while Lopez had his head down in an awkward position Ortiz threw a punch that hit Lopez in the back of his head, the referee called it an unintentional illegal blow and gave Lopez five minutes to recover. Lopez shook off the punch and continued. This was a war between two great fighters in their prime. In the ninth round Ortiz was injured and in between rounds his corner stopped the fight. Lopez pulled off a stunning upset by TKO as Ortiz could not answer the bell for the tenth round. Lopez a warrior with his eye was swollen shut proved that he deserves better than to be a replacement. Some were hard on Ortiz questioning his toughness, but he certainly had a reason to quit. It was learned later that his jaw was broken in two places and he will need a plate and two screws in his jaw and, if that’s not enough, he also had severe internal bleeding.
The opening bout on Showtime was a great matchup of super lightweights. Humberto Soto (59-8-2-1) challenged Lucas Matthysse (31-2-0-1). Both fighters challenged from the beginning. The fight was a great showcase of two fighters who come forward and refuse to quit. Soto is a great technical boxer while Matthysse has a lot of faith in his power. In the fifth round Matthysse started to land even more of his powerful punches. With eight seconds left in the fifth round Matthysse landed a combination of blows that ended with a hard right hook that sent Soto to the canvas. Soto stood up before the eight cont but was clearly out of it. In between rounds it was clear that Soto was still feeling the effect of the knockdown and his corner wisely stopped the fight. Matthysse won by technical knockout because Soto was unable to answer the bell for round six.
The main event on ESPN2’s “Friday Night Fights” was a clash of junior welterweights. The California prospect Mike “Silent Assassin” Dallas Junior (19-2-1) met the El Paso, Texas warrior Javier “El Zorro” Castro (27-5) in the ring. Dallas dominated the fight and was able to land his right whenever he needed to. In the sixth round Dallas landed several punches in succession that ended the fight. The referee called a TKO as it was apparent that Castro could not fight back.
The opening fight on the “Friday Night Fights” card was a super middleweight fight. Elie Augustama (6-5) took on Brandon Gonzales (16-0-1). Both fighters were engaging on the inside with Augustama doing more holding while Gonzales was throwing body punches. After the fighter’s heads came together several times, one clash caused a cut over the eye of Gonzales. This was a fight where Gonzales was able to execute his plan while Augustama was unable to make a much needed adjustment. Gonzales picked up the unanimous decision as each card had him winning all eight rounds.
Some may be disappointed that Ortiz lost because he underestimated Lopez, but he is a great fighter who has showed great heart and lots of skill. He is a good fighter and he deserves respect and credit for even fighting the first time his jaw was broken. Maybe he shouldn’t have signed up for another fight before he finished this one, maybe he shouldn’t have head-butted Floyd Mayweather, but he was ahead on the scorecards when he was forced to quit and in a sport that doesn’t have the greatest stars, a very talented and nice man who is always focused on sportsmanship should not be dismissed for a few mistakes.